Friday, 1 December 2017

Advent One 2017 Isaiah, Matthew and Ted Hughes

As we know, Advent is about waiting or more properly awaiting. The thesaurus alternatives include, wait for, expect, anticipate, look forward to, be ready for, each of which brings its own nuance. In our two readings today, this the first Sunday of Advent,  we discover different ideas about how we might wait:

Impatiently: “O that you would tear the heavens and come down so that the mountains would quake at your presence,” writes Isaiah - he is calling loudly for God to come, what are you taking so long for? We need you now - and how true that still is - and quickly as when “fire kindles brushwood.” We want you back as you were before, when you did awesome deeds, you have hidden your face from us because of our sins and we urgently want you back.

(or we might wait)
Hopefully:  “Do not be exceedingly angry O Lord and do not remember iniquity for ever. Now consider - we are all your people” It is as if once again I am a child suffering under my mother’s sentence ”Just you wait until your father gets home.” I am fearful and at the same time hopeful that mother will have cooled in her telling of the offence that he has had a good day at the office, a swift journey and that all will be far better than I imagine. Nonetheless I worry, do not be exceedingly angry O Lord.

(or we might wait)
Prophetically ”But in those days after that suffering the sun will be darkened and the moon will not shine and the stars will be falling.” Jesus gives us the pointers, the signs that will alert us to the end of the world as we know it. We do wait like this for many things looking through our telescopes, fine tuning our antennae  for signs of what is to come so that we may anticipate and be ready.

(or we might wait)
Attentively Your teenager has borrowed the car, they have travelled to see friends for a night out and it is late, you are in bed, you know they are not back, you will not sleep, listening for tell-tale noises, for tyres on the driveway, for a step on the threshold for a creak of the door or the stair and you say to yourself “keep awake”

My training incumbent, saw me climb into the pulpit with a copy of the Financial Times in my hand once - he said “I never expected to see that paper in the pulpit.” and I think that he might say the same for this poem from Ted Hughes : but it has something to tell us about waiting -

Poem: Ted Hughes “Fate Playing” Birthday Letters Faber and Faber 1998 London p 31

So we might wait
longingly -

As the deer longs for the water brooks, so longs my soul for you O God.
Ps 42:1